ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Better access, facilities sought for major tourist spots
While many keen travelers are familiar with the names on the government’s list of promoted tourist destinations, like Mandalika in West Nusa Tenggara and Morotai Island in North Maluku, those who have never set foot in those places might have a few basic questions.
How do I get there? How do I get around?
The government seems to be taking these questions more seriously, as institutions like the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry and the Transportation Ministry have pledged to prioritize the development of infrastructure in 10 areas listed recently as the country’s priority tourist destination.
The Public Works and Public Housing Ministry, for example, has included the construction of roads in five priority destinations, namely Lake Toba in North Sumatra,
Mount Bromo in East Java, Mandalika, Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara as well as Raja Ampat in West Papua, in its strategic program to build 796 kilometers of new roads next year.
“We are actually just continuing what have already been doing. But now, as we are more focused on development there, we might even take over road construction projects that were under regional administrative responsibility,” Public Works and Public Housing Ministry secretary general Taufik Widjoyono told The Jakarta Post recently.
The infrastructure support would not be limited to roads, but also extend to sanitation, clean water, waste management as well as homestay, Taufik said, adding that a master plan for infrastructure in tourist destinations was currently being drafted in cooperation with the Tourism Ministry.
The ministry has recently assigned state construction firm Hutama Karya, in charge of the 2,600-km Trans-Sumatra project, to build a 90-km toll road connecting Tebingtinggi and Prapat in North Sumatra, specifically to support tourism near Lake Toba, a scenic volcanic lake.
Tourism is one of five designated priority sectors for the administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
The government has proclaimed a target of attracting 20 million foreign tourists a year by 2019, twice the 2015 figure, with the 10 emerging destinations promoted by the government expected to contribute strongly to growth in the industry.
However, the 2015 World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Travel and Tourism Report found that while holding the third spot on a list of 141 countries in terms of price competitiveness, Indonesia’s infrastructure for air transportation ranked 39th, lower than that of neighboring Malaysia in 21st position. Indonesia’s ground and port infrastructure was ranked even lower in 77th place, compared to Malaysia’s 35th.
Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi acknowledged the gap and pledged to develop transportation infrastructure, such as airports.
“[The development] can be handled by the government or state-owned enterprises,” he said.
Next year, the ministry plans to extend runways at 18 airports and build new terminals at 11 airports.
The head of the West Nusa Tenggara chapter of the Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (Asita), Dewantoro Umbu Joka, said the infrastructure development was crucial to attract investors to build amenities.
“It will prompt the private sector to also develop the area,” he said.
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